Nature and Humans Affect Each Other

I recently watched a Ted Talk about the way humans categorize knowledge. In the talk, Lima highlighted history’s tendency to use nature as metaphors for many abstract things such as family lineage, areas of science and academia, and so on. The use of the tree metaphor to categorize things has been ingrained in our minds for a very long time.

I think this is interesting because it shows a more abstract impact of nature on humans. Not only does nature affect the way people live, based on climates and conditions for growing food, or affecting evolutionary physical features, but it also affects the way we think about ourselves. Throughout the years, these abstract concepts have been characterized as things that are present in nature, even if the tree may not be the most accurate physical structure to represent them. The talk goes on to explain that a more accurate metaphor to use in categorizing knowledge and connections may be the network, with many lines connecting each point to all other points, not just linear, top-down structures such as trees, which can be more limiting. This is interesting because it shows nature’s ability to override more representative ideas, since nature is always around humans.

However, the new network design of categorizing knowledge is still deeply rooted in nature (notice how nature has also infiltrated the English language in the form of expressions!). Since the network structure allows for more points to be connected to each other than the tree structure, everything suddenly has the power to affect everything else, which brings to mind the ideas of first and second nature. Second nature is the idea that nature is the way it is now because of human existence, whether or not humans have directly affected a landscape or not. In my opinion, everything on the planet, and even in space, is now second nature just because humans exist on some parts of the earth. This phenomena could be very accurately represented through a network design.

I think it is interesting that nature and humans can each affect each other in different ways. One would not be what it is without the other.


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